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Vendors and restaurant owners battle for mouths to feed

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TWC News: Vendors and restaurant owners battle for mouths to feed
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RALEIGH-- Whether it's pizza or tacos, food truck vendors want to be able to satisfy the appetites of pedestrians on Raleigh streets. Vendors have proposed an ordinance that would allow them to set up shop on private property. However, restaurant owners say it could hurt their bottom line.

Mike Stenke owns Klausie's Pizza truck. He wants to sell his pizza, but he can't sell it out of his truck on city streets. "I think food trucks would bring a lot of life to areas the city wants life,” Stenke said.

The city's Law and Public Safety Committee is considering Stenke's proposal to allow trucks like his to sell on private properties like parking lots. Tuesday, he and other truck vendors battled it out with Raleigh restaurant owners over who can sell food and where they can sell it in the capital city.

"Is it the city's job to determine who can compete and who can't," asked Stenke.

Right now, city ordinance only allows hot dog vendors to be along Raleigh streets. Other food trucks have to wait for big events or festivals like Raleigh Wide Open.

"Festivals are okay, but they don't pay the bills on a daily basis. You need to have daily income,” he said.

Restaurant owners argue nearby food trucks could keep their customers away. "Some of these guys have invested a lot of money in getting their businesses open and running," said Alex Amra, owner of Tobacco Road Sports Cafe on Glenwood South. "A food truck parked across the street selling the same items. It's not fair to them.

They say they pay more in taxes and their permanent business has helped give Raleigh a boost. "If Glenwood South or downtown goes under, these guys roll away," said Amra. "They set up somewhere else. We're out our investment."

Both sides hope to keep feeding the people of Raleigh, and hope city leaders can come up with a compromise. "I don't want my dream to die and I don't want my truck to go out of business,” said Stenke.

The city will create a draft for the new ordinance and then open the issue up for public comment in the coming months.

Committee members also made changes to regulations for hot dog cart vendors Tuesday. Hot dog carts will have to be 50 feet from restaurant entrances. Vendors will renew their permits each year instead of a proposed three year lottery system, and they'll have to stop sales at 3 a.m. and be off the street by 3:30 a.m.

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